The Lowdown on Living in a Retirement Village…

… written by someone who is doing it.

My previous posts were about the committees at Mountain View and the difference they make, but there’s a whole lot more to a great retirement village than how well committees work together.

The Queensland Government defines an age-friendly community as “one that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community life by ensuring older people are free from age-related barriers that prevent participation and engagement“.

So how does Mountain View stack up as an age-friendly community?

I’ll get to that, but first, let’s get a few myths out of the way.

Living in a retirement village is restrictive

Yes, there are by-laws and guidelines, but try living in any community without rules and let me know how that goes. The by-laws are in place to ensure a peaceful life for everyone, but they are neither harsh nor unconscionable (as per the legislation). Your unit or apartment might be yours, but common property is shared by all – just like the roads and streets we drive on. Can you imagine how long we’d last without road rules? The same goes for common property. We need rules to make sure everyone enjoys a peaceful life.

Retirement villages are full of old people

You only have to be fifty five to buy a unit at Mountain View, but tell a fifty-five-year-old they’re old, and I don’t think it will end well. At the other end of the age spectrum, some of our residents have celebrated their 100th birthdays and are still doing well. Last year I spotted ninety-nine-year-old Audrey walking up the stairs to attend a function – yes, there is an elevator, but Audrey preferred the stairs. Age is just a number, but I reckon where you live has an impact on how well you spend your final rotations around the sun.

Did I mention my neighbour, Noeline, and how she flew to Perth a few years ago to pick up her new campervan (the Dove)? Noeline drove the Dove across the Nullarbor and back to Murwillumbah, on her own. And did I mention Noeline was in her eighties at the time? At time of writing, Noeline is camping in the Dove somewhere in Central Queensland. She isn’t home much since she bought that campervan.

I’m not ready to retire yet

I know this one well. That’s exactly what I said when I first visited Mountain View in 2015. I was sixty-five at the time and still working very long hours in a job I loved. My first day back at work was a doozy – full on – and stressful, and I thought, ‘to heck I’m not ready to retire!’. I flew back from Central Queensland – looked at units (with a new perspective) and put in an offer on the very unit I’m writing from now. Buying a unit in Mountain View fast-tracked my feasible (financial) retirement date by a few years. And trust me, getting used to retirement is easier than it looks. I’m still leading a productive and busy life – but on my terms, not somebody else’s.

But I can’t Take my pet

Yes you can. New legislation prohibits blanket bans on residents having pets. You have to apply to the Strata Committee to have a pet, but that’s as much for your convenience as the village. If you have a medical emergency, management needs to know who to contact to collect your fur-or-feathered friend until you are well. The likelihood of your application being denied is pretty slim at Mountain View (unless you want a horse, or camel).

So, now we have some myths out of the way, let’s explore Mountain View in depth.

It’s all about independence

My home in Mountain View is situated on twenty-eight acres of beautiful bushland, so there is no shortage of wildlife and nature around us. We are high enough not to be impacted when the Tweed River floods; in the shadow of Wollumbin – Mt Warning; and close enough to town for shopping and medical appointments.

I share my life in this community with almost three-hundred others who have reached their senior years. I don’t know all their names, but I know a lot of faces. And then there are some I meet for the first time, despite each of us having lived here more than five years. And that’s what makes this place unique, you can participate – or not. Some close the door on their working life and prefer to stay behind that closed door, and that’s fine. Retirement is meant to be done your way – not someone else’s.

The majority of units that make up Mountain View are known as Independent Living Units (ILUs). Picture the home you are in now, and imagine it in a community of like-minded people, where decisions made can affect all. We are independent of each other, but connected in many ways. You are as independent as you would be in any home in suburbia, except you have a connection to others in the village by virtue of common property that is shared by all.

Hate cooking? (yep!)

The other half of the equation of living at Mountain View is a supported apartment in The Lodge. I’ve got my eye on an apartment in The Lodge for when I’m over cooking for myself, or struggling (I mean really struggling) to put a fitted sheet on my bed. It is still independent living – you come and go as you please – but there are a few supports in place. Meals are in the Dining Room, fully catered by an amazing team of chefs and assistants. And someone puts the fitted sheet on the bed for you, and washes the sheets and towels – you only have to take care of your personal washing.

But there’s more to The Lodge than just the extra support. When you step into the building, the feeling of belonging is all around you. The residents in this part of Mountain View are the epitome of a great community. I had the pleasure of staying two nights in one of the respite rooms a few years ago, and I loved it. So I’m talking from experience when I say how great the Lodge community is.

So, who’s the boss?

I’m glad you asked that question. Aveo Mountain View Retirement Village is owned by a Canadian company called Brookfield. Brookfield is a large reputable company who bought Aveo a few years ago, but kept the Aveo name. Brookfield has made huge improvements since then. At time of writing (May 2023), our community centre is closed while a significant refurbishment happens over the next three months. Most notably will be the addition of a Bar and a Gym, not that I would endorse using both in the same sitting, unless of course you use the Gym first. Having said that, would that defeat the purpose of a workout?, (just asking for a friend…).

There are a lot of people at the helm of Brookfield, but the one that stands out for us is Julie A. Although Julie travels between Brisbane and the Gold Coast a lot, you’ll often see her here at Mountain View. We like to think it’s because she loves our village as much as we do, but realistically, it’s Julie’s job to make sure the villages in her realm have everything they need and are working well. Don’t worry, we’re pretty quick to give Julie our wish list when we want something extra. So far she is rolling her eyes at my suggestion to build a new level on top of the community centre, and I get that that’s a bit of a tall order, but hey, I’ll keep adding it to the wish list – just in case.

Let’s talk about David P

Mountain View is owned by Brookfield, but is managed by our very own David P. It seems that to get a job at Mountain View you have to be named David – there’s no shortage of David’s here. David P is our village manager, David W is our key maintenance guru, and another David is our go-to bus driver.

As a manager, we couldn’t ask for a better boss – well – he’s not like your average boss. David manages the village and looks after the day-to-day things like organising contractors and paying bills, but he does a whole lot more. David is there when you have a question, or need help with something. If he doesn’t have an immediate answer, he knows where to find it. And like any community, things can occasionally go pear-shaped. David doesn’t take sides in any neighbourly disagreements, but finds a solution that works for both sides, in the most respectful way. I think it’s his calm, quiet nature that shines through in times of trouble.

Did I mention that if you throw almost three-hundred random people into a close community, you will have occasional problems? Well, we do, but luckily the problems are few and far between, and most are issues that can be easily fixed. Harder ones might need a little help from an external agency that David is happy to refer residents to, if needed.

Did I mention Ellen, and the girls?

David P is awesome, but he isn’t Superman, and you know what they say:

Behind every great man there’s a great woman – or three – or more…

David has the support of a great team of women in the administration office. Ably assisted by Ellen, his 2IC, David knows that when he can’t be onsite, the village is in good hands. I reckon Ellen knows every resident, all two-hundred-and-seventy-plus of them. And she’s been here long enough to have a good handle on the history of Mountain View as well. Even though she is tucked away in a corner of the main office most of the time, Ellen knows what’s going on around the place, and is a valuable asset to us all.

You call – they’re there

And then we have our fabulous office girls – not being sexist here – it’s just that since I’ve lived here, we’ve only had girls in the office. Our Sherrin and Jess are amazing. Each had huge shoes to fill in taking over from our previous team, but they fill every inch of those big shoes admirably. Well, implying our recently-retired Kerrie’s shoes are big might be a stretch too far, given she is knee-high to a grasshopper, but her heart is bigger than Phar Lap’s. Sherrin and Jess stepped in and stepped up, and do an amazing job. They can be seen zipping around the village in the ‘cart‘ (a glorified golf-buggy) delivering meals, important notes, or attending to residents in distress.

You call – they’re there.

I reckon we’ve all had to call them once or twice when we’ve locked ourself out of our unit – some more than others (just saying…).

Of course, our needs don’t stop once the office closes. Yep – we can even lock ourselves out of our unit after office hours – but never fear – the lovely Linda is likely to be on the night shift making sure we are all okay. Things happen as we age, and sometimes we need a second opinion on whether we need an ambulance, or not. When the office door closes behind our admin team at 5pm, the lovely Linda, or any one of our great after-hours staff, takes over. We all have an emergency call button that works 24/7, if we need it. Regular testing of the button ensures it works effectively, and reminds us of how to use it, just in case.

Mr Fix-It

David W has the big cart – the cart that looks like a miniature ute. And our Dave zips around all day attending to the fix-it jobs. He’s in demand for a lot of things, not the least of which is turning off the water when needed – he knows where all the taps are. Dave’s been here for a long time – not meaning he is getting old – but I reckon he must have started working here right out of school because he is still young. And Dave knows every inch of the village, so he’d better not be thinking of retiring any time soon, unless he moves into one of the units – and trust me – that could be arranged (when he’s old enough).

Pam – The Sales Pitcher

If you want to buy a unit in our village you’ll meet Pam who takes care of sales at Mountain View. Pam is as passionate about the village as the residents are – well – at least 95% of the residents (more about that later…). Pam knows her stuff and will help you make the most informed decision about your unit and the type of contract that is best for you. When you’re all settled into your new home, Pam will deliver a fantastic welcome gift, just to add an even more personal touch to the deal.

So that’s it?

Well, that’s it for the Aveo staff (I hope I didn’t miss anyone), but there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. What turns a great village into a spectacular village is the volunteers who donate their time and energy in so many ways.

When I think of volunteers, there are a lot of people who top the list here at Mountain View.

The village shop is run by a team of great volunteers, ably managed by Coral. I won’t name them individually for fear of missing someone, but they know who they are and should know that without them, our little shop wouldn’t function at all. Six days a week you can buy a loaf of bread, milk, chocolate, or even a home-cooked quiche, as well as heaps of other grocery items. Did I mention chocolate? And for those last minute gifts, there are shelves of home-made craft items for sale.

Bingo is on – and so is Trivia

There are no shortage of activities at Mountain View, arranged and managed by volunteers and the Social Committee. Darrell and Margaret make sure the coffee machine is primed, the biscuit barrel is full, and clean cups are on the shelf. Neville and Janet take care of Trivia on Monday nights, and there’s Bingo every Thursday. Friday night’s Happy Hour is popular, and so is the monthly Morning Tea. If residents can’t find something to do at Mountain View, they’re not reading the monthly newsletter or the notes dropped in their mailbox. The hardest part is fitting all your favourite activities into each week.

Maureen L and Linda deserve a special mention for being the driving force behind the food that abounds at most functions. These girls slave over a hot stove, even on sweltering summer days, to make sure a delicious meal is on the table for Happy Hour and every other event. No need to emphasise how much we love these two fabulous ladies, and the many others who can be found in the kitchen before and after events that involve food.

The kitchen isn’t my happy place – but I can type

And for those of us, like me, who are not at peace in the kitchen, there are plenty of other ways to volunteer. Luckily I can type, so being secretary on the Strata Committee is how I give back to the community.

And on the subject of committees, we have two very important committees at Mountain View – the Strata Committee and the Residents Committee. Both have different functions, but the same goal – they want to make this the best retirement village it can be, and it’s working.

We are a Strata Scheme, but we have Freehold and Leasehold owners (it’s complicated). We have to have a Strata Committee, but the Residents Committee is optional. 2023 is the year the two committees kind of amalgamated, but not officially. They are still two separate committees but due to some exceptional circumstances, the two committees have an intertwining of members. There are seven members on the Residents Committee, and six on the Strata Committee, but three members are on both committees.

Two committees – one goal.

Peter is the Chairperson on the Residents Committee and a member of the Strata Committee. Ken is Treasurer on the Strata Committee and a member of the Residents Committee (and the Social Committee). I’m Secretary and Chairperson on the Strata Committee and a member of the Residents Committee. Conflict of interest, you might ask? Nope – not when we are all working towards the same goal. If we had different agendas there could be potential problems, but our agendas are the same – we want what is best for every resident – we might just have different ways of getting there.

The Strata Committee makes decisions about common property issues, by-laws, and finances. The Residents Committee directs questions and concerns from residents to the most relevant source for resolution. By working together the two committees can expedite the process for a faster solution.

On both committees is a team of dedicated residents who give up their time to attend meetings, and to represent fellow-residents on matters that need attention and/or decisions.

Who’s on the Strata Committee?

  • Me (Chairperson and Secretary)
  • Ken M (Treasurer)
  • David P (Village manager)
  • Bev H
  • Peter W
  • Wendy P

All members turn up each month to vote on issues that will impact on their neighbours and themselves, and they do the job brilliantly. The committee members are also involved in village life – they attend functions and volunteer in other capacities as well.

And the Residents Committee?

  • Peter W (Chairperson)
  • Cheryl (Secretary)
  • Wendy W
  • Alan W
  • Neville E
  • Ken M
  • Me

All members are active in the community and volunteer in many ways, because if we are making decisions for the residents of Mountain View, we need to know the residents of Mountain View.

But there is another level to management here at Mountain View, and that is the support of our Strata Manager at Body Corporate Services (BCS), Tweed Heads Branch. If we didn’t have Kellie and her team backing us, our job would be almost impossible to manage. We self-managed for a few years and trust me, we wouldn’t want to do that again.

Not happy, Jan

As mentioned earlier, there are a few people who don’t seem to have embraced village life as easily or enthusiastically as the rest of us, but they are a very small number. Perhaps they regret moving here, or have forgotten why they made that decision, or perhaps they didn’t understand the contract before signing it. But I’d like to think they love it here as much as we do – they just don’t show it. And on that note, it is worth mentioning that you buy a lifestyle when you buy into a retirement village, not necessarily an investment. Having said that, there are now a number of contracts to choose from that might ease your mind for the future, or your children’s inheritance. Pam, and/or Aveo, would be happy to explain them to you.

United we stand

The two committees are united and dedicated to serving every resident at Mountain View to the best of our ability. We started 2023 on a peaceful path and that’s how we plan to continue. Problems are dealt with through robust and constructive discussion – that’s how the Strata Committee has operated for many years, and our Residents Committee feels the same. We don’t all have the same opinion or agree on everything, and that’s healthy for any committee, but we openly and respectfully discuss all options to find the best solution.

And it is the team effort, from the top of Brookfield to the newest resident, that makes it all happen. It wouldn’t work without Julie A’s input, the dedication of our management team, or the hard work of all the volunteers at Mountain View.

Cooperation and respect are the keys to peaceful living in a retirement community.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses eight key action areas to define an age-friendly community, and therefore the quality of life and wellbeing of an aging population:

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Civic participation and employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Community support and health services

So how does Mountain View stack up as an age-friendly community?

Mountain View has all eight areas covered. On twenty-eight acres of bushland there is an abundance of open spaces, a community garden, pool, bowling green, and soon, a bar and a gym (indoors). The village bus is available for social outings, as well as the town bus right on our doorstep. But if more specialised transport is needed, it is available.

Social activities are plentiful, and there are volunteers willing to teach new skills including art, technology, and family history. The monthly newsletter keeps everyone informed of activities, as well as letterbox drops for urgent matters. We even have our own closed Facebook page with one-hundred-and-one members (and growing…).

Bookworms are well catered for with an overstocked library – yep – our volunteer librarians often donate the overflow to other agencies, and we’ve even published our own anthology of resident’s writing.

Some residents maintain part-time employment in the wider community, but still find time to participate in village activities.

Government assisted support

There is no shortage of available services aimed at keeping us in our own home longer. Housekeeping, shopping trips, podiatry, pharmacy delivery service, and a lot more are accessed by residents in ILUs.

Buying a unit at Mountain View is an affordable option, which is probably why Pam often has people on a wait-list for an available unit to buy – units tend to sell fast these days. Perhaps our little piece of paradise is no longer a secret?

Respect and social inclusion probably get the biggest tick on the WHO list here at Mountain View. There are too many activities and events to mention here, but if there isn’t something that suits you, you can start your own. Many residents form groups of like-minded neighbours to play cards, or mahjong, or just meet for BYO at the Gazebo on Saturday night.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

But it is the mutual respect that stands out the most. Neighbours take care of each other – whether it be cooking a meal for someone who isn’t well, or driving someone to a medical appointment. There is always someone who will check in on you to make sure you are okay, and if the Admin team know you are not well – they’ll give you a call to see if there’s anything you need. A meal can be delivered daily by Jess or Sherrin, if ordered from The Lodge kitchen for a small cost. And trust me, I’ve used the service. During Covid19 lockdown in 2020, I arranged for a hot meal every day for a few weeks so I didn’t have to worry about groceries or cooking. I mean, lockdown was a busy time, right? That’s when we were baking sourdough, restoring old furniture, and learning how to make rag-quilts, so there was no time for cooking (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…).

The time is now!

So if you are contemplating retirement, do yourself a favour and investigate an Aveo retirement village near you – or come and visit ours. We’d love to show you how good life can be when you make the decision on where you are going to spend your retirement years. If you don’t make the decision soon enough, someone else might make it for you, and it mightn’t end well.

Note: My heartfelt thanks to everyone who makes Aveo Mountain View Retirement Village the best place to live. There are hundreds more behind the scenes, including Bob the Builder, and Stewart – our favourite electrician, but know that you are all appreciated. And to every resident who has, or continues to volunteer in any capacity at Mountain View, it is you who makes the biggest difference.

Thank you!

One Village – Two Committees

Six months on from the AGMs of our two committees, how are we travelling?

The Strata Committee (SC) is not-negotiable – we have to have one. We don’t have to have a Residents Committee (RC), it’s optional, but we do have one. So how is it working out?

In a previous post I described how the two committees were working together for the benefit of all residents, so six months on from the AGM of each committee, are they still working together?

In December 2022 each committee held their respective AGM. Not a good time to hold an AGM, but we made the most of it, despite lower than usual attendance. More alarmingly, there were very few nominations from the floor for committee positions, which forced some past members to renominate rather than step down for a well-earned rest.

Every day is the weekend

Given that we are all retired (or at least semi-retired) it’s understandable that being on a committee isn’t on most people’s retirement bucket list of fun things to do – it certainly wasn’t on mine. And given some negative mis-information that had been circulating around the village a month or so earlier, who could blame anyone for not wanting to be on the committee.

But – six months on from the AGMs, this is what has been happening on both committees, and I should know because I’m on both committees.

Having an overlap of members across the two committees means things happen faster. There are now three Residents Committee members on the Strata Committee, and vice versa, which means there’s a lot of cross-referencing at meetings.

At RC meetings, SC members take responsibility for issues raised that need to go to the next SC meeting. If the matter is urgent, the secretary sends an email to all Strata Committee members for a majority vote. The decision is then ratified at the next formal meeting.

What does the Residents Committee do?

The official role of the RC is to direct resident’s enquiries to:

  • management
  • Strata Committee
  • Aveo
  • external agency

But our Residents Committee does much more than that. Under the expert guidance of Peter, our Chairperson, and Cheryl, our Secretary, there’s a whole new level of commitment to the well-being of all residents. Not that the Strata Committee wasn’t doing that, but they’re more concerned with by-laws and financial decisions that affect the village, especially in connection to the common property. The Residents Committee can devote time to the important things, like advocating for new furniture for the Gazebo, or helping neighbours live more harmoniously, without having to elicit the strength of a specific by-law.

Each member of the two committees lives (or works) and is active in the village, therefore every decision and/or improvement affects them. And that’s why the committees take their role seriously and have combined their collective efforts for the benefit of every resident, including themselves.

Peter and Cheryl make the difference

Getting along well with all committee members, and management, makes for a peaceful life and a great community. And that’s what we’ve achieved since our respective AGM’s in December 2022. And that’s the way we intend to continue.

Peter is an outstanding Chairperson, and makes sure nobody is left behind in Open Forums. He treats every question with respect, which encourages residents to find their voice within the community. Judging by the increased attendance and questions at the sessions, I’d reckon Pete’s calm and peaceful nature is paying off.

Cheryl’s attention to detail in Agendas and Minutes are second to none. If an issue goes on the agenda, it stays there until it is resolved. In the meantime, progress is documented, step by tiny step.

Living in peace and harmony

You only have to walk around the village to see the difference. Things are happening faster, and more easily now that we have two committees working hard together. And you can feel the difference. There’s a harmonious peacefulness that is palpable. Is it perfect? Nope, and it never will be. When you have nearly three-hundred people living together as closely as we do, there will be bumps in the road, but those bumps are not insurmountable. The committees will continue to smooth out the prickly bits as quickly and peacefully as possible, and move on.

It’s all happening, and it’s all because the two relevant committees are working hard together. Mind you, lunch at our favourite restaurant after any meeting, really helps. We try to spread the love around by choosing a different place each time, but there are a few that keep drawing us back. Peter and I love the Fried Rice at The Balcony, Wendy loves Johnny Francos. And we all have our favourite dish at The Courthouse Hotel.

Win/Win

So you see, everyone wins – we splash a bit of cash around our beautiful town, as well as solving the problems of Mountain View. What could be better than that.

And at our next relevant AGMs, we are confident that the community centre will be full to overflowing, and we will have residents lined up to nominate for a position on the committee – either committee – or both.

Will you be there?

Hey, Who Took the ‘i’ Out of Team!?

…Not that it should have been in there in the first place. For a team to work well, it has to be a t-e-a-m, not a te-i-am. When two t-e-a-ms join forces for the common good of all, a lot can happen, and that’s what the residents of our little piece of paradise are in for in 2023.

Let’s go back a step.

Mountain View Retirement Village is a Strata Scheme, which means we come under the guidelines of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA2015). Because we are a Strata Scheme, we have to have a Strata Committee to represent owners in decision making on anything to do with common property and financial decisions. It’s a bit complicated and I won’t bore you with the details, but since 2015 some units are Leasehold, which is a slightly different kind of ownership. We still come under the SSMA2015 legislation, but we need to take into account our Leasehold owners and make sure they are represented in all matters as well.

After a bit of a shaky start, we have recently formed a Residents Committee that works closely with the Strata Committee. Our goal is to make our village the best it can be, and if a recent meeting is anything to go by, we’re on the right track. The two committees held their first combined meeting to work on a project that will benefit all residents.

Because this is a retirement village, it isn’t easy to get people to step up to be on a committee, and that’s a good thing because we’re retired, right? But someone has to do it, so it’s great that we have a dedicated team of residents who are willing to get involved. And that’s why we try to keep it as low-key as possible. Dare I say, we even have fun in the process – okay – maybe not so much on the Strata Committee because that’s the serious side of the business, but definitely on the Residents Committee. I don’t think there’s ever been a (new) Residents Committee meeting that hasn’t culminated in lunch at a local restaurant, and that is always heaps of fun.

So, whoever took the ‘i’ out of ‘te-i-am’, we thank you. Our t-e-a-m (both committees) is working beautifully to make this fantastic place even better.

Watch this space for updates on what the two committees (t-e-a-ms) are up to at Mountain View!

Our Place in Paradise

You might think I’m biased about living in paradise, but it seems others feel the same way.

Take a look at these amazing videos of the place that is home to so many of us. We live in 28 acres of bushland, and wake up to the call of kookaburras, magpies and whip birds every morning. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Gavin is our resident Movie-maker and has made fantastic videos of Mountain View, so make sure you check them all out.

Thank you Gavin, for highlighting our place in paradise.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Exciting World of Being Published!

We’ve done it!

Our Mountain View Anthology is now live on Amazon for pre-order (Kindle version only at the moment – but print copy will be available soon).

Last year Mary, Wendy and I asked residents to send us their stories for the inaugural volume of our anthology.

And yes, we may have underestimated how much work is needed to edit, type and format those contributions, but we’ve finally arrived.

We were ambitious enough to think we’d have the book all done by Christmas, but that certainly didn’t happen. So here we are mid-2021, and we are now live on Amazon.

Having never published an e-book before, it has been a very steep learning curve. Trust me, Volume Two will be a lot quicker and easier.

Having said that, we are now looking for stories and poems for Volume Two from the residents of Aveo Mountain View, so sharpen up those pencils and start writing.

Send your contributions to:

retired@mountainview-living.com

Or drop them into the Office.

I know you’ll love reading our collection of poems and stories as much as we have.

We all have a story to tell, and we want to hear yours.

Hastings Point

June 2021

Despite the early morning start, and an early morning storm, a group of residents set off in the bus for Hastings Point last Tuesday.

It seems that Hastings Point now has a Marine Discovery Centre.

Now that on its own is good enough, but when they combine an awesome lunch with the deal – well – heck – who’s not going to take advantage of that.

And that’s exactly what a bus-load of our residents did.

From all accounts, the day was a great success. In fact, there is talk of us needing a bigger bus to accommodate more residents.

How good does the food look? It would be worth a trip to Hasings Point just for the Sticky Date Pudding (one of my favourites…).

Once again, our hard-working Social Committee did well.

But someone who is always outstanding, is Coral.

I don’t know how Coral keeps going, but thankfully she does. Her organisation for the Bus Trip meant that everything went well, nobody was left behind and everyone arrived home safely.

Coral, you are a Legend!

ANZAC Day 2021

The remnants of COVID-19 restrictions still linger here at Mountain View – and in the wider community. With the Anzac Day march cancelled again this year, Anzac Day 2021 was almost a replica of 2020.

Neighbours gathered in driveways with lighted candles and remembered brave men and women who have served in wars past and present.

Russell, assisted by Jim, organised a beautiful Dawn Service at the flagpole.

Russell lowers the flag as the Service begins

Georgina had placed candles around the flagpole, and residents gathered with their own candles to remember Veterans, past and present, on this special day.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests were invited to have tea, coffee and Anzac Biscuits in the Community Centre, organised by Georgina, with the assistance of Coral.

Jim and Russell stand in front of the beautiful wall-hanging made by Marilyn, a Mountain View resident

As well as those who attended driveway ceremonies, there was a significant number of Veterans at our Dawn Service.

Audrey’s Story

The highlight for me was a chat with Audrey, after the Service.

Audrey is in her nineties, but she still remembers some of the better times of serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) during World War II.

She told me that enlisting was exciting for her, and the girls she served with. But like the words in the Redgum song, ‘she was only nineteen’, and it was the first time she (and others) had lived away from family. It was a time of camaraderie and friendship.

Then, as now, Audrey was petite, and she told of her disappointment in not having a uniform for the first few weeks because they didn’t have one to fit her; her uniform had to be specially made.

She also told of the excitement that surged through the Base in Melbourne when cigarettes were in stock in the Canteen. She would rush down there with the other girls and hand over sixpence for a packet of Craven “A”. But Audrey laughed when she explained that she doesn’t smoke now and she didn’t smoke then; she was just caught up in the excitement.

Audrey’s job was in Signals; she would type out the Morse Code that relayed information about the movement of planes.

They deserve our ongoing gratitude.

We not only remember and honour Veterans like Audrey on Anzac Day, but every day that we wake up in our democratic nation, in relative peace.

It is with gratitude that we thank:

  • Russell – for organising the Dawn Service for Anzac Day 2021
  • Jim – for assisting Russell at the Dawn Service
  • Georgina – for organising the candles, seating and refreshments
  • Coral – for making and serving tea and coffee
  • Marilyn – for allowing the use of her wall-hanging for the Ceremony
  • Our Veterans – for proudly wearing their medals and attending the Dawn Service
  • Our Residents – for braving the chilly morning to attend the Dawn Service for Anzac Day 2021 at Mountain View
  • All Veterans and Serving Members – past, present and future

Lest We Forget

The Washing Is Still In The Machine!

I’m sitting on my verandah listening to the sounds of life around me, while the washing is still in the machine waiting to be pegged on the line.

I can’t tear myself away from the absolute bliss of living in Mountain View.

There is the sound of water soaking the garden below me as Joan tends the flowers that frame her unit.

Dot is engaged in a phone-conversation with her family.

Nancy called out to Jerry and thanked him for the garden items he gave her that she cooked for dinner last night.

Laughter rings out as neighbours meet and greet each other.

These are the sounds of life at Mountain View.

There is so much happiness here.

And there are so many residents who are more than willing to help those in need, whether it be a cup of flour or a shoulder to cry on; we are here for each other.

This is why Mountain View is paradise to all of us (well, almost all of us – there are a few people who would rather be somewhere else).

And that is why the washing is still in the machine, because I would rather be here on the verandah, listening to the happiness around me.

Have a great day here in Paradise, at Mountain View!!

It’s Time To Share The Love!

After a bit of a dry spell (thanks, COVID-19 – Not!) we’ve hit the road running in 2021. The new Social Committee is up and running and things are looking up. We are all set to Share The Love!

The new team boasts a couple of well-known residents who have had years of experience in organising events. Coral, Christine, and Ray have all been around the block a few times and know exactly how to get things organised.

But don’t underestimate the new members.

Stella, Neila and Dave have years of experience between them and have brought fresh ideas to the team.

And me? Well, I’m there to help Stella manage the paperwork; the meeting notes and correspondence.

At the first meeting that was held the day after the AGM, ideas started flowing and we decided how the team would work best. The key to a successful committee is to remember there is no I in TEAM. We have delegated positions for the smooth running of events and meetings, but decisions are made by the team at committee meetings.

Before the meeting was over we had planned one event and one bus trip for February and a couple of probables for March and beyond.

So what event would you have in February?

Valentines Day, of course!

Share The Love on February 14th – 12.30pm

The hearts are cut out and laminated and love is in the air.

Image by autumnsgoddess0 from Pixabay

The beef is ordered and the potatoes peeled (well – not quite – but Noeline has that bit organised)

Vegetarians will enjoy the BEST Lasagne on the planet, cooked with love by Lucid Cafe in Murwillumbah.

Christine has the Tiramisu recipe out and has delegated the jelly and fruit dessert to a fabulous volunteer (thanks Linda).

And residents had better wear their dancing shoes because Heartbeat will be providing the entertainment.

Watch this space…. for news about the February Bus Trip…

And That Was The Year That Was!

As 2020 starts its descent over the horizon, we look back and think ‘What the ‘beep’ just happened?’.

Wasn’t it only yesterday I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year, saying that 2020 was going to be the best year ever?! Well, we all know how that ended.

Or did it?

This year changed a lot of things, but I think it actually brought us all closer together – not physically, because we still can’t do that if we are observing appropriate social distancing, but emotionally closer.

Social isolation was hard, but the community spirit here at Mountain View got us through it. Through our Facebook Page (Mountain View Murwillumbah), we were able to help our neighbours find resources they needed to ride out the isolation. We found wool, books, DVDs and a whole heap of other stuff that helped fill the hours of those stuck at home.

Teamwork!

And through the Craft Shop, Coral and Christine worked tirelessly to keep grocery supplies on the shelves. The community spirit grew stronger during the worst year imaginable.

2020 will be written into the new history books, and as participants, we were all part of making that history. Future generations will read about how we survived the pandemic by staying at home, constantly washing our hands, and wearing masks if we had to venture out of our safe havens. And signing into venues is probably going to be part of our new normal.

Tonight we celebrated the end of the year that was, and it was one of the best events I’ve attended in my five years of living in this fantastic community. It’s hard to describe but there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and harmony. It was an amazing night. It might not have been the most attended event of the year, but it was the spirit of the people who attended that made the night so spectacular.

In less than an hour we will welcome in the New Year, having said goodbye to 2020 forever.

May 2021 bring us more of the events we shared tonight, and may we continue to look out for each other through the coming year.

Happy New Year Mountain View!!

Christmas Market At Mountain View

With the success of the recent Plant Market, Coral and Christine followed up with a Christmas Market at Mountain View.

Things were a bit ‘Frosty’ during set-up, but Jerry, Neila and Coral sorted it out. With Frosty’s help they set up the tables and moved bucket-loads of plants in, ready to sell.

Our crew are a talented lot, so they needed a lot of tables.

And on the day, all the work in setting up the room paid off.


Mountain View Talent

Susan always does a great job selling raffle tickets but this year she has an additional job – making sure we all sign in. Ah, how COVID has changed things.

Bev was busy on her stall of quirky things – everything from scrunchies to socks.

Ivy and Susan admired the shrug Wendy bought for her granddaughter (beautifully hand-made by Helen).

Malcolm knows all about frames and framing.

Our very talented resident, Jack, creates beautiful artwork.

Helen was kept busy selling baked goods and plants.

Helen is always ready to lend a hand whenever anything is happening in the village – well – unless there is football on at the same time.

When the Geelong Cats are playing, you’ll find Helen tucked up in front of the TV watching them play.

Helen and her daughter…

Our new resident, Helen, with the fabulous crocheted and knitted items she has made.

Julia sold out of quilts pretty fast, and lots of lucky people will be getting beautiful quilts this Christmas. Caz and Christine took a break to admire the beautiful quilts and crocheted rugs made by Julia.

Margaret took care of the gift wrapping, and Bev rewarded her with a well-earned shoulder massage.

The Coral and Christine Team did it again!

A huge thank you to Coral and Christine for their effort in organising the day, and to all who participated, either selling or buying.

A great team effort ensured the success of the day, especially the $500 raised for Charity.

Well done Everyone!

Self-Management is Complicated

My feet had barely hit the ground at Mountain View when the Annual General Meeting was called. I was too busy settling in to care about the politics of the place, but the agenda included a motion to terminate the Strata Manager. Self-management is complicated in a large scheme, so I wondered if that would be a wise decision to make.

There was a lot to be said at that meeting, and as a relatively new resident I listened to all the arguments, for and against. When I cast my vote in favour of self-management I was confident we could do it.

Just before the AGM I was nominated for a position on the Strata Committee, and I’ve been part of that great committee since then.

It’s a tough gig but someone has to do it

Giving time to be on the Strata Committee has been an honour and a privilege, but it hasn’t been without problems.

The legislation that governs Strata Schemes in New South Wales has changed, and the changes have increased the complexity of managing large schemes like ours. None of the committee members are trained Strata Managers; we’ve been a lot of things in our other lives, but not Strata Managers.

We are a large Strata Scheme and we need the expertise of a fully qualified Strata Manager to guide us.

David does an amazing job as our Community Manager, but the last thing he needs is the extra strain of helping us keep up with changes in the legislation.

What does the legislation say?

The Strata Committee put in a lot of hours in the lead up to presenting Motions to residents at a General Meeting, as per legislation.

The Owners voted on:

  • whether we need a Strata Manager
  • which of the two proposals to accept for the appointment of a Strata Manager (dependent on the outcome of the first Motion)

The Motions and two proposals from prospective Strata Management companies were presented at a General Meeting. And the residents of this great village voted in favour of a Strata Manager, and in favour of appointing BCS to manage this fabulous place we live in.

The Strata Committee is still relevant, but the hard work will now be borne by BCS generally, and Matthew (our new Strata Manager) specifically.

Yep! Self-management is complicated

So we can all relax, safe in the knowledge that BCS will handle the hard stuff. They know the legislation inside-out and can answer all those tough questions.

Do we still need a Strata Committee?

Mountain View is a Strata Scheme, even though we have an increasing number of Leasehold units. Until we are 100% Leasehold, we will be a Strata Scheme, and a Strata Scheme has to have a Strata Committee.

I would encourage Owners to consider nominating for a position on the Strata Committee at future elections. We sorted the hard stuff so you can have a much easier experience than the current committee has had.

And what about David?

David will now be able to focus on what he needs to do as Community Manager. The appointment of BCS takes a lot of pressure off him.

The majority of residents love where they live and want to live peacefully and harmoniously with their neighbours. There are a few residents who aren’t happy but that’s life; the rest of us just keep on being happy.

I often wonder how David survived all the hard stuff that went on behind the scenes, but he did. He handles it all without even breaking a sweat – he saves the sweat for the football field after work. There’s a lot to be said for a good physical workout after a stressful day.

If it isn’t working, call Dave!

Who do we call when a water main bursts? Dave! He knows which mains to turn off and what to do until the plumber arrives.

Dave is a man of few words – unless you ask for a progress report on his new granddaughter. Then out comes the modern-day brag book (the trusty smart-phone) with the latest photos and videos. And because we all know the mother (and father) of this beautiful baby, we can’t get enough reports of how she is growing.

Dave will still do what he does best – look after the everyday maintenance stuff.

Jason and the gardeners…

Nothing will change on the garden front. Jason will still manage his fabulous team to keep our gardens as beautiful as they always are.

One of the first things visitors notice are the gardens, especially in spring. We live in a kaleidoscope of colour, carefully planned and cultivated by our amazing gardening team, originally led by Eddie, and now capably managed by his son, Jason. Our twenty-eight acres of spectacular bushland are a credit to this amazing team.

So what happens now?

  • BCS will take care of the big stuff
  • David is still at the helm as Community Manager
  • the girls will continue to manage the office and call-outs
  • Jason and his team will still look after the gardens
  • Dave will fix everything that needs fixing (within his job description) and keep us updated on the progress of his beautiful granddaughter
  • the Strata Committee will liaise with the Strata Manager and continue to make decisions about Common Property

Mountain View is in good hands

Self-management is complicated, and that’s why it’s better to hand the management over to BCS. And we can all get on with what we do best: enjoy our retirement.

And that’s how it should be!

Continue reading Self-Management is Complicated

Where Were You When the Lightning Struck?

Where were you when that massive bolt of lightning hit the village yesterday?

Wait a minute, wasn’t yesterday Halloween?

Was it Nature’s attempt at Trick or Treat?

If Halloween is about scaring the daylights out of people, then yes, I guess Nature won.

There was absolutely no time between that one massive bolt of lightning and the accompanying thunder; they hit simultaneously. No wonder it sounded like it was right above us.

Because it was!

It blew concrete out of the road, literally!

Those of us on Jacaranda and the end of Lakeside Drive were lucky. But those on Fern Avenue and Fern Walk weren’t so lucky.

That bolt of lightning split a tree, then travelled through the garden, under the road and exited at a number of points.

I’m amazed at how it blew the top off this post.

And this one

I reckon this is the missing top….

A large pot of plants in the garden near Jean’s unit literally exploded with the force, the path strewn with soil and fragments of the pot.

A large rock and heavy statue landed on the path in front of the garden.

But the real damage happened on Fern Walk and nearly Lakeside Drive.

I reckon this is why their power went out.

Two power boxes took the force of Nature, which knocked out the Phase B – I have no idea what that means, I’m just repeating what the electrician said. When the lightning hit the power box, it blew phones off walls inside a couple of units in that block, including Rob’s.

Around on Lakeside, Kevin and Jean’s units had no power at all.

You can see the scorch marks from where that massive bolt of lightning found its mark.

Stuart from 2484 Electrical got it all working again, with a little help from Paul from Essential Energy’s emergency crew.

A quick call to Essential Energy’s emergency system brought the back-up Stuart needed.

Some TV‘s are still not working because some sets actually blew up.

Ray was quick to make a call to his NBN provider and a new router is on its way to replace the one that took the brunt of the lightning.

There was no time to unplug routers and TV’s. The storm seemed like it was still off in the distance – UNTIL – that massive bolt of lightning came from seemingly nowhere, and wreaked so much havoc in Mountain View yesterday.

But there were no casualties so we are very lucky.

And in attempt to make peace, Nature gave us these beautiful clouds at the end of the day.

Another Amazing Village Garden Market

The amazing team of Coral and Christine, with the help of a heap of fantastic volunteers, put together another successful Village Garden Market yesterday.

Garden enthusiasts and hungry residents stayed dry while they ambled through the tables full of plants and baked goods.

The girls did a great job as acting Bookies, selling tickets in next week’s Melbourne Cup Sweep.

Thanks Prue, Christine and Coral.

At these prices you could afford to fill your balcony with amazing plants.

When you weren’t buying plants, it was a great time to catch up with neighbours.

Plants. plants and more plants

The pool provided a peaceful backdrop, especially with the raindrops landing on the surface of the water, while shoppers pondered their potential purchase.

Cheryl, Tony and Anna stocked up on house-plants, while Kerrie and John, Wendy and Peter caught up on village news.

Margaret took care of sales and greetings. She had a huge smile for everyone who stopped to say hello.

Susan sold heaps of tickets for the beautiful butterfly decoration. If the person who won it is having trouble figuring out where to put it, I have the perfect spot at my place. Just saying…

Linda guarded the baked goodies. I bought some carrot cake, had it for lunch (yep – that’s what I do…), and it was so good I‘ve pre-ordered another one for next week (thanks Christine).

I don’t think Linda needed to up-sell any of the great variety of cakes and slices. Judy knew exactly what she wanted. The Brownies were really popular.

Am I the only one who thinks these plants are amazingly inexpensive?

I’ve resorted to buying plants that grow in water, not soil. So far the last lot I bought have survived.

The good old sanitiser and sign-in sheet greeted everyone on arrival. Where would we be without them.

I love those decorations that swirl around. I’m sure I’d just sit on my porch all day, watching them catch the breeze.

Mary didn’t waste any time working out which plants to buy for her balcony.

The day was a great success, and there were many more volunteers than the ones mentioned here.

To everyone who helped make the Village Garden Market another awesome success – Thank You!

Helping each other is what Mountain View residents do well, and it’s what makes this place the best place to live.

She Calls Me A B*tch At Least Once A Week

I was caught off guard when I asked Coral what makes the team of ‘Coral and Christine’ so strong. She looked at me and said, “She calls me a b*tch at least once a week”.

I wasn’t expecting that response, but the more I delved into the reasons for their longstanding working relationship, the more it made sense.

Christine and Coral sitting at a table in a friendly pose. Christine calls Coral a bitch at least once a week but it’s what makes it all work.

Coral and Christine assumed ownership of the little shop on top of ‘Administration Hill’ here at Mountain View a couple of years ago. The shop was already successful but with their recipe for magic, they transformed it into something even more successful.

Marion (the previous keeper of the shop) had opened the shop every morning for years, ready to greet whoever walked through the door. There was always a good supply of staple food items on the shelves and ice-creams in the freezer. And you could be guaranteed a chat about village life while you shopped.

But there comes a time in every volunteer’s life when they need to stop and smell the roses, or coffee (…whichever). Marion wanted to spend more time with Ray, and travel more often to catch up with family.

So when Marion called ‘Closing Time’ for the last time, she handed the keys of the shop over to Coral and Christine. The new team accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion.

Little by little the Craft Shop evolved; well, it’s still evolving. As fast as Coral and Christine think up new ideas, they find a way to implement them.

The Craft Shop became the Hub

2020 will go down in history as the year that stopped the planet. COVID-19 struck in February and brought us all to a grinding halt.

New regulations meant restriction of movement to within our own little bubble of the local shops, and only for essential goods and services. Most of us heeded the advice and were happy to go into full lock-down.

Coles deliver groceries, but only if you have the technology to order online. So every week, Coral drove to Tweed Heads to load up her car with groceries from Aldi to stock the shelves of the Craft Shop. Buying for less meant residents paid less.

Safety Plan

Coral and Christine baked throughout the restrictions, and kept the shelves stocked with everything we needed while at home (especially chocolate).

A COVID-19 safety plan was implemented within the shop to ensure all residents stayed safe.

Residents without transport simply phoned the shop, placed their order, and Coral delivered, leaving the items in a safe place at the door.

The strength of these two women during the worst of the pandemic was outstanding.

Either or both of them could have taken the easy way out and stayed home in isolation. But they didn’t. They armed themselves with masks and sanitiser and soldiered on. There was little thought for their own safety, apart from doing everything they could to protect themselves. Their concern was for the residents of Mountain View and what they could do to help them.

Refrigerator containing drinks, cheese, bread eggs, cream, milk helped residents during COVID-19

“So, what is it about you two that keeps you working together so well?” I asked.

Coral’s initial response to that question shocked me a bit.

“She calls me a b*tch at least once a week”, she said.

But then it made sense.

They don’t take life, or themselves too seriously. Perhaps that’s the secret?

So What Else Works?

  • There’s No ‘I’ in TEAM
    • They treat each other as equals
    • There is no boss – they are each the boss and the worker
    • Neither of them sees herself as the Queen Bee
  • They communicate
    • They discuss options before making a decision
  • Each respects the other’s strengths
    • Christine takes care of the banking and finances
    • Coral takes care of the shopping and stocking the shelves
    • They both bake and cook
    • Christine makes craft items to sell
  • There’s no tall poppy
    • A success for one, is a success for both
    • Tall Poppy Syndrome is something neither of these two suffer from; they’re too busy making Mountain View a better place

The most important thing that unites these two powerful women is the love they have for Mountain View. Everything they do is for the good of the community. When you have the right values and motivation for what you do, success follows.

And these two powerful women know no bounds; if they can dream it, they make it happen. Their energy is limitless. When you look at the shelves in the shop bursting with items for sale, you realise how much time and effort these two put into their day.

craft items on shelves that keep the store well stocked with items to sell

Christine and Coral are just two of the many powerful women who call Mountain View their home.

It’s time for all our powerful women (and men) to be celebrated.

Why Wayne Bennett’s Book Made Millions of Dollars!

Wayne Bennett, former coach of the Brisbane Broncos, published a book in 2002 called ‘Don’t Die With the Music In You’. Apparently nobody was more surprised than Bennett when the book became an outstanding success and grossed more than a million dollars in sales in the first eight months.

Bennett didn’t write his book for financial gain; he wrote it to tell the story of his love for family and football.

A quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes provided the inspirational title for Bennett’s book, and it is a quote we would all do well to live by.

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr

Bennett received letters from hundreds of readers who told of life-changing events from reading his book, including:

  • a schoolboy bullied at school found the courage to confront his tormentors
  • a Vietnam Veteran found the inspiration to turn his life around
  • an elderly man found strength while reading the book to his dying wife

Bennett just wanted to tell his story, and that story will continue to inspire thousands of readers for years to come.

The story that is in all of us must be told sooner rather than later, because none of us knows when our clock will strike midnight for the last time.

For some of us, later never comes.

Don’t think your story isn’t important…

It Is!

Bennett’s book wasn’t of epic proportions; his story was told in 192 pages measuring 205mm x 135mm. And that’s not a lot of words – as successful books go.

Your story could be less words than Bennett’s and still have the same effect as his words had, and continue to have.

You might not have coached a successful football team, but your story is just as important. It’s the people you have met on your life journey and the ideals that brought you to where you are today that matter.

Have you lived in the same house, on the same street, in the same city all your life?

The world you navigated within those walls, and in your neighboured as it evolved, will resonate with others:

  • What kept you close to home?
  • What changes happened around you in your home, your street, your neighbourhood?
  • Who are or were the significant people in your life?
  • Are there regrets?

Were you a wanderer?

  • How far from home did you roam?
  • Why did you leave?
  • How old were you when you left?
  • Where did you move to?
  • Did you go back to your hometown?
  • Are there regrets?
Image by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay 

Do your children know?

How much does your family know about what inspired you?

What will they wonder about, and wish they knew, when you are gone?

I’m retired now and have the time to write my parent’s stories, but there is so much I don’t know about them.

If only they had written their stories before they left us; if only I’d asked more questions. Now there is nobody left to ask about their early lives.

Bennett‘s story made more than a million dollars

Kathie and I met on the first day of high school and have been best-friends ever since, but Kathie lives in Melbourne and I’m in Northern New South Wales. With the aid of technology we are writing our stories alone, but together.

Like Bennett, we don’t expect millions of dollars in sales or even movie rights to our book (although we are open to fame and fortune); we will be successful (and grateful) if our book only reaches our immediate families.

Our families will find out why I didn’t become a smoker, thanks to life-lessons under the school hall taught by thirteen year old friends.

They will find out the real reason Kathie left home to join the Air Force at eighteen.

And they may even discover the raw emotions that led Kathie and I to marry our respective spouses, only to abandon our marriages later in life.

What memories will you share?

Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay

Do your children know how their parents met?

Have you shared the pain of leaving loved ones behind to travel to battle-fields far from home?

Will your great-great-grandchildren know about the ancestors who forged the way for their existence? And do they know it might be in their DNA to follow the same occupation or life-path you followed decades earlier?

Image by khurshid alam from Pixabay 

Now is the time to tell your story

We should all take the lead of Wayne Bennett and pen our story before it is too late.

Even scrappy notes left behind in a folder could fill in the blanks when your descendants are writing their family history.

A thumb-drive that contains the recorded history of your lifetime could be gold to future generations. Hearing your voice could provide sweet comfort to someone mourning your loss. And the retelling of significant events could provide the bridge between your era and theirs.

Write it down, record it on storage media, scratch out some notes – it doesn’t matter how you tell your story, just tell it!

Writing and publishing ‘Don’t Die With The Music In You’ means Wayne Bennett won’t take his story with him when he departs this earthly sphere.

And neither should You!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Snail Mail

Or – how we used to communicate before email…

I don’t know about you, but I wrote a lot of letters when I was young. We lived in a reasonably remote part of the world and most of my extended family lived in the city. So snail mail, as we now call it, was the only way to communicate with my grandparents.

Did I mention we didn’t even have a telephone back then?

In the course of writing a lot of letters, I managed to find a Pen Pal who lived out the back-of-beyond in the Northern Territory. I can’t remember her name, but the name of her father has never been forgotten.

I was still in primary school at the time, so I was probably about ten years old.

My father’s name was Tom.

My pen-pal’s father’s name was Left Hand Jack.

I looked forward to her letter the minute my letter to her was signed, sealed and posted. Patience is a virtue, and one that I probably should have been cultivating a little more earnestly.

I watched the mailbox like a hawk, eagerly awaiting her reply.

Sometimes her letter would begin with… “I haven’t written because we went walkabout…”.

I loved having a pen-pal, and it seems history might be repeating itself.

This morning while checking my emails, I discovered an initiative launched by Australia Post to connect seniors in Australia the old fashioned, snail mail way.

While the system isn’t open to individuals, it is accessible by a representative of an over-55 organisation. Well, who could resist?

I promptly filled out the form and emailed it off. It’s a little ironic that I didn’t have to hand-write the form and post it. But then this could be the ideal merge of both worlds – email and snail-mail.

I’ve signed us up in the hope that those in the Village who don’t have ready access to technology, or just love the art of hand-writing a letter, will start to communicate with seniors across this vast land of ours.

And since restricted-movements are going to be a part of our lives for a while yet, how good would it be to find out what life is like in other retirement villages?

Australia Post even supplies fancy paper templates that I can print off for anyone who wants to get onboard the pen-pal project.

My application to get us connected with pen-pals has been acknowledged, so I’ll keep you posted (pardon the pun….).

Acknowledgement: Images above are courtesy of members of Pixabay.com. Thank you Pixabay for your outstanding service.

How to Build a Website

If you Google ‘how to build a website’, you’ll find a lot of information, and courses, both online and face-to-face. The cost ranges from free to very expensive.

I didn’t Google ‘how to build a website’ – and I didn’t race off to my nearest college to learn how.

I just did it!

And if I can do it, you can do it.

When I closed the door of my classroom for the last time in April 2016, I was sixty-six years old and had chalked up over thirty years of teaching.

You can’t work fifteen hours a day, five days a week – to suddenly sit on your touché and do nothing. When I first thought about retirement, I thought about what I could learn once I didn’t have to go to work each day.

It’s all in the name

Building a website was on my list of things to do in retirement, so I bought a couple of domain names, just in case. It seemed everyone had a blog and I wanted one too, even though I wasn’t quite sure what a blog was.

The first time I raised the question of my pending website with my web-developer son, the response was “Go to WordPress.com – it’s so easy anyone can do it. You’ll be right”. 

I can’t say that I wasn’t tech savvy at the time, but loading a few Apps onto an iPad and reviewing them in the school newsletter, isn’t exactly high tech. 

The gauntlet was down – the challenge was on. 

Once I’d retired from teaching, I had all the time in the world to learn. So I logged onto  www.WordPress.com, rolled up my sleeves, and got stuck into it. 

It was flabbergastingly easy! Oh, and perhaps I should mention my learning style…

‘if all else fails, read the instructions’ . 

Through trial and error and a few Google searches, I figured it out.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I remember the first time I typed in www.havandra.wordpress.com, and my new website stared back at me. It was an amazing feeling! I’ve kept that old site as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Maybe one day I’ll find time to fix that old site up a bit – now that I know more about building websites. Having said that, it still works just fine the way it is.

Follow Me! I Know a Shortcut!!

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

I was proud of my first attempt, but I look back now and cringe, given what I have learned since then. I used a lot of text, rarely any headings or sub-headings, not nearly enough white-space, and very few photos. 

This is what my blog looks like now www.maureendurney.com

And before the website police start jumping up and down, I know it isn’t perfect. But I built it myself! And I haven’t had any formal training in how to build a website.

The buzz I got from seeing my first WordPress website up and running (the .com version) inspired me to take the next step. I had bought a few GoDaddy domain names before I retired, including MaureenDurney.com, so now I was ready to build a couple of .org websites. 

WordPress.com is a F-R-E-E version of the popular website-platform. You can build and maintain a website without any cost (apart from your ridiculously inexpensive Domain Name).


Racking it up a notch

With a little help from my son for the hosting part, I built a website and started my blog. 

WordPress.org gives you more flexibility to customise your website, but you will need to pay to have it hosted. And you will need a Domain Name.

Hosting is the part that gives your website its ‘street address’ out there in cyberspace. Because there’s no point in building a website if nobody can see it. Until you get the hosting part sorted, the only place you’ll see your website is on your computer, or whatever device you use to build it.

When I Googled ‘how to write a blog’, there were heaps of options! But nearly all started with:

Choose a descriptive name…

Well – I’d blown that one before I’d even started.

Your Domain Name is the name of your website. If you think of websites you’ve probably visited, you’ll see how the name of the website describes what they do or who they are.

My site is called MaureenDurney.com.

That doesn’t exactly tell you a lot, unless you are a member of my family or a friend who Googles my name to see what comes up.

GoDaddy is a popular site for finding the right Domain Name.

As soon as I signed the contract to buy a unit in a Retirement Village (even though I wasn’t retired at the time), I bought the domain name ‘MountainView-Living.com’. I had no idea what I would do with it, but figured I could write a blog about what it was like to live there.

Out of the four websites I’ve built, that’s the one domain name I got right. It at least features the name of the village I live in, so you’d expect the blog to have something to do with the place.

Get Hosting  

My son helped me with the hosting. He had the option of including the hosting of my site alongside sites that he had built. GoDaddy has a package plan where you can host multiple sites under the one plan – and that’s what my son had.

There are a lot of Hosting companies out there and WordPress has a list of companies that are very WordPress friendly, including many of the companies that sponsor WordPress WordCamps around the world.

I’ve since upgraded one of my sites to WPEngine hosting. They are one of the world leaders in web-hosting and are also a major sponsor of WordPress WordCamps and Meetups. 

Customise your site

WordPress has this part covered. And this really is the fun part. 

I started by choosing a WordPress theme. WordPress provides heaps of themes that are free to use.  And you can test-drive them to see how it will look on your site before locking it in. 

Themes have a lot of built-in features to make your life easier. At the start of my website journey, I left it all up to the theme. I chose the theme, installed and activated it, and that was it. Done!

I’ve since learned how to tweak the theme a little, but I mostly stick to the already installed features of the themes I use.

This is what my blog looks like now www.maureendurney.com

There are lots of YouTube videos that will step you through the process of getting your WordPress website up and running.

And Remember: if I can do it, so can you!

Mountain View Facebook Group

Wendy and I have started a closed FB Group for all residents and staff at Mountain View.

Just search Facebook for Mountain View Murwillumbah, and you’ll find us.

You have to apply to become a member and answer three simple questions – then an Administrator will approve your request – depending on your answers…

You’ll then be part of our very own Facebook community.

Don’t forget to read and agree to our guidelines. We have a three-strike policy – three inappropriate posts – and you’ll be out. Oh, and the inappropriate posts will be deleted.

Our focus is on community and support. No bullying or derogatory comments, and no spamming. We’re all here to live a peaceful life and enjoy our retirement.

See you on FB!

Looking at Life in the Rear-View Mirror

Most of us up here on the hill have been around the block a couple of times (or more!). Some have lived our lives on the edge while others have taken a more conservative, back-seat position. But regardless of what course our lives took, looking at life in the rear-view mirror certainly puts a different perspective on it.

The ordinary experiences of aging alter and clarify your view of past, present and future.

Edith Pearlman

Do you remember how you felt as your twenty-first birthday drew near? For Baby Boomers, twenty-one years of existence signalled the dawn of adulthood. It was the magic number that entitled us to sign contracts and enter into legal agreements (like marriage…) without the written consent, or approval, of our parents.

The world was ours, to do with as we pleased.

And we embraced it with both hands, and wide-eyed wonder. Some of us were invincible and hurtled into life at full-throttle – others moved slowly through the gears (and years). Either way, we explored, experimented, made decisions and settled into an existence that would (hopefully) sustain us into our mature years.

We pursued goals, both career and personal, and raised families. Through lean years and good, we managed to get by. And no matter what life threw at us, we survived.

We were resilient.

The years came and went. Our once busy households were now relatively empty. The children we raised had left to raise their own family. Society even came up with a name for us – we became the ‘Empty Nesters’.

And the Empty Nesters took flight – albeit – on wheels. And another new phrase was coined, as the ‘Grey Nomads’ circled the nation (and the globe). Caravans dotted the highways in no particular hurry to arrive, to the annoyance of the younger generation who lined up on the highway behind us.

Long lines at check-in counters of airports were over-populated by travelling seniors with passports in hand, as they jetted off to another long-awaited destination. The travel bucket-list growing smaller with every return journey.

The SKI Club – Spending Kid’s Inheritance

Back in the day, our parents lived frugally and saved hard – safe in the knowledge they would be leaving a sound financial legacy for their surviving children. And the children lived safe in the knowledge their inheritance would be forthcoming on the demise of their loving parents.

But somewhere along the way, the lines blurred. The borders of the world merged. Inventions like television, and then the Internet, gave us a glimpse of another world. There was more to life than the little patch of ground we called home, and we wanted to experience it – all of it!

Education was the norm for our generation, not the exception. And University became accessible and affordable for more than just the children of the elite.

Our children were not only better educated, but earned more than we ever did.

It no longer made sense to go without – just to leave an inheritance to children who didn’t need it.

And that’s when the SKI Club was born. The grey (or – nearly grey) nomads disposed of the family home and moved into a more mobile abode. One that would deliver them to the far corners of the country, as they ambled along the highways and bush roads of this vast land.

The dawn of a new era

Eventually the nomads wearied of their transitory lifestyle. They had explored the length and breadth of the country – and the gypsy-lifestyle no longer served them. They longed for a little cottage with enough garden to keep them occupied without over-taxing their waning energy and creaking bones.

As they reminisced about the places they had seen, one or two little towns or cities dominated their thoughts. And that’s where they gravitated to. It’s where they would settle down to enjoy their more senior years.

When it’s time to view life in the rear-view mirror, what will you see?

With the big-wheels sold to the next generation of nomads, our grey-nomads bought into a new lifestyle. A place where everyone has a story to tell and no-one is in a hurry to go anywhere. Where folks enjoy a cuppa and a chat to share their travel-tales.

And when darkness falls, you can hear a pin drop.

The forwarding address for all their mail is to a Retirement Village in that quaint little town they found all those years ago – the one they kept going back to – the one they talked about the most.

Travel now is in the luxury of a cruise ship – where someone else charts the course and does the driving.

The pace of life has slowed – as it should.

Image by Erin Alder from Pixabay 

Life in the rear-view mirror looks good, framed by the memories made in the journey from the beginning of adulthood to the final phase of our existence.